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Mysterious Mansion is fantastic. It is incredible how the 2 or 3 scareactors keep up with you throughout the walkthrough. When we went several years ago, they were literally jumping balcony to balcony to keep up with the guests. I also think they have backstage areas that allow them to access different floors since one of them jumped down from the ceiling where just 30 seconds ago he jumped out at of us from a section that was a floor below that one.

 

Interesting to note; the owner had garden hoses attached to much of the exterior structure that had several holes poked in them. Not sure if he anticipated a future wildfire, but when the bad one happened three years ago, he turned the water on before evacuating and it is very likely what saved the structure. Both adjacent buildings completely burned to the ground and the fire was probably less than 10' behind the building when it finally started raining and contained the spread.

 

Ripley's is a good one to attend during the Halloween season. They do a special event and the house is littered with scare actors. I was surprised as I have also been during normal operations, and they do not staff more than a handful of actors.

 

Thanks for the report.

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^ I'm glad Mysterious Mansion survived the wildfire because it was so good and those efforts probably helped. I have no doubt they had backstage areas to maneuver around the house because the scare actors were everywhere despite there only being 2-3 of them.

 

Ripley's at Halloween sounds perfect since the scare actors would really elevate it.

 

^ man.. now you're just torturing me, since the Spouse doesn't want to make the drive to Dollywood/Gatlinburg for our vacation this year.

 

sigh

 

 

at least we're gonna go to Charlotte / Carowinds for a few days

 

Carowinds is a great park, but I do love myself a good tourist trap area.

 

Great update!

 

I've actually never been to Gatlinburg and that's kind of ridiculous. I'll work on it.

 

Thanks and you should fix that! All the moonshine places on the walkable strip seem right up your alley.

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^ In an age where arcades are pushing redemption games that are over in a flash, it's refreshing to find an arcade nowadays with so many pinball machines.

 

If you think that's good, you should see the pinball parlor at Canobie Lake Park.

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^ Very nice. I would love to have a pinball place to hang out and play games, etc. At my age, hah! They closed one of the two arcades, where you won tickets and then collected for shelf prizes. But no pinball machines were to be found. I think it would be a perfect themed retro nod to the pinball age, in this new retrofit of Playland(PNE) in the coming years, to do something with that building, now.

 

With pinball games. Better than that, a parlor/space like you suggested, not on the PNE grounds.

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The Fun Centre was fun no more, last year. But they still put out capsule machines!

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^ I'm glad Mysterious Mansion survived the wildfire because it was so good and those efforts probably helped. I have no doubt they had backstage areas to maneuver around the house because the scare actors were everywhere despite there only being 2-3 of them.

 

 

You know how you go in the main entrance and there are several levels of balconies that are visible.. when they are trying to drum up business the scare actors will jump from balcony to balcony when interested customers come in. They will also go out on the bridge and try and get customers. I can't wait until my kids get old enough to do this attraction again.

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^ I didn't notice any scare actors outside calling for customers, but I also believe I was the last tour of the night. I just barely made it before they closed!

 

^ Very nice. I would love to have a pinball place to hang out and play games, etc. At my age, hah! They closed one of the two arcades, where you won tickets and then collected for shelf prizes. But no pinball machines were to be found. I think it would be a perfect themed retro nod to the pinball age, in this new retrofit of Playland(PNE) in the coming years, to do something with that building, now.

 

With pinball games. Better than that, a parlor/space like you suggested, not on the PNE grounds.

 

I don't even recall passing that last year at Playland, but then again I was there during the PNE so it was wall to wall with people.

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Sounds like you had a similar experience in Mysterious Mansion as I did a few years ago, it was seriously one of the best haunts I've ever done. My wife and I went through it in the day time, and were the only guests in the house, pretty sure they only had 1 maybe two people working but they made us jump so many times by running ahead ahead of us and behind and jumping over balconies and railings, it was so much fun.

 

We skipped Anakesta on our trip last spring break but I'd like to check it out next time we're in town. We were kinda short on time and took the kids to do the alpine slides at Ober that morning and didn't wanna drop another $100+ or whatever for Anakesta even though the rail runner looks really cool. Oh well, we took about 10 rides on the old school concrete trough alpine slides for the price of one ride on the rail runner so I'm not too upset.

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NASCAR SpeedPark

 

NASCAR SpeedPark is home to one of the dirtiest kiddie credits out there. While Speedway Draft is actually pretty respectable as far as kiddie coasters go, the fact this park only offers an all-day-wristband separates the credit whores from the super credit whores.

 

If I was going to get the Speedway Draft credit, I was going to at least spend an hour or two trying all the park’s go kart tracks. But as I approached the park, it looked closed. I didn’t see anyone outside. No guests. No employees. Just a vast wasteland of sadness. That should have been a sign to run.

 

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During this report, I want you to play a game. Count the other guests that you see.

 

As I walked inside, I made my way to the ticket booth. And there wasn’t a soul in sight. I waited around for 5 minutes until an employee finally popped up from beneath the desk. Turns out the girl was sitting criss-cross applesauce on the floor probably Snapgramming or Instachatting. She probably forgot what a customer looked like.

 

I asked if everything was open and she informed everything was except their best and fastest go kart track, the Smoky Mountain Speedway. That was strike one against the park.

 

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Supposedly this was the only closed ride. Spoiler alert, it wasn't.

 

So I decided to take a stroll to see if it was worth my while getting a wristband. And I’m sure glad I did because it saved me almost $30…that later went to the Jurassic Jungle Boat and Earthquake the Ride.

 

With literally no one else in the park, I wasn’t interested in riding go karts alone. That’s even more sad and pathetic than riding a kiddie coaster as a lone adult.

 

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Intimidator (not 305)...and a huddle of employees chit-chatting.

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WTF is that thing on the right? I'm going to have nightmares.

 

So I made my way over to the area of the park housing the thrill rides. And an employee told me everything was closed except the Tilt-a-Whirl and the Carousel. He said he went away for three days and almost everything broke down. That included the kiddie coaster.

 

That was my cue to leave.

 

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Coaster credit, denied.

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Flat ride credits, denied.

 

But on the way out I decided to let the ticket agent know about all the ride closures in-case another guest were to show up (lol). She then clarified her prior statement the kiddie rides didn't count and the spinning rides were damaged in a storm. I guess that’s what “everything is open” means to this park.

 

I consider myself a glass half-full person. Even if a park gives me lemons (see my last visit to La Feria or Clementon Park), I try to find something to laugh at. It keeps me sane.

 

However, I can't sugarcoat this one. I have no intentions to ever return to this park.

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^ Very nice. I would love to have a pinball place to hang out and play games, etc. At my age, hah! They closed one of the two arcades, where you won tickets and then collected for shelf prizes. But no pinball machines were to be found. I think it would be a perfect themed retro nod to the pinball age, in this new retrofit of Playland(PNE) in the coming years, to do something with that building, now.

 

With pinball games. Better than that, a parlor/space like you suggested, not on the PNE grounds.

 

If you ever find yourself in or around Asbury Park, NJ, check out the Silverball Pinball Museum. It's a good time, and Asbury Park is a much nicer town than it generally gets a rap for (so long as you stay on the ocean-side of the rail line that runs through town LOL). They apparently have one in Delray Beach, FL as well.

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If a hotel doesn't measure up to the brand, the brand rips its name off the building. I'm no legal scholar about licensing deals, but if they can, Nascar should immediately remove their trademarks and images from a place like this if it's run that poorly.

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LOL at the concept of NASCAR fans expecting anything other than complete tragedy. Or doing anything other than chugging Coors Light. NASCAR has bigger problems than worrying about a failing half-amusement park, like the fact that their viewership has plummeted in the past few years, that their mechanics are going to have to learn how to work on post-1950s technology, and that their drivers are going to have to learn to shift more than 4 gears.

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If you ever find yourself in or around Asbury Park, NJ, check out the Silverball Pinball Museum. It's a good time, and Asbury Park is a much nicer town than it generally gets a rap for (so long as you stay on the ocean-side of the rail line that runs through town LOL). They apparently have one in Delray Beach, FL as well.

 

I'm pretty sure I've driven past this town before on the way to some of the seaside parks.

 

If a hotel doesn't measure up to the brand, the brand rips its name off the building. I'm no legal scholar about licensing deals, but if they can, Nascar should immediately remove their trademarks and images from a place like this if it's run that poorly.

 

I'm not privy to licensing deals, but this place definitely didn't represent the NASCAR brand well.

 

LOL at the concept of NASCAR fans expecting anything other than complete tragedy. Or doing anything other than chugging Coors Light. NASCAR has bigger problems than worrying about a failing half-amusement park, like the fact that their viewership has plummeted in the past few years, that their mechanics are going to have to learn how to work on post-1950s technology, and that their drivers are going to have to learn to shift more than 4 gears.

 

Speaking strictly to the park, having honest and competent customer service is something critical for any business. That was my gripe with the park. It had nothing to do with the NASCAR brand.

 

where is that NASCAR park? wanna be sure to avoid it.

 

Sevierville, Tennessee about 15 minutes down the road from Dollywood.

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Carowinds- Just Before Winterfest

 

Whenever I visit Dollywood, I have a big choice to make. Do I want to fly out of Atlanta and visit Six Flags Over Georgia? Or would I rather fly out of Charlotte and go to Carowinds?

 

I know Knoxville exists, but I can't get there directly and visiting one of the two above parks is more fun anyway.

 

Now I do really like Six Flags Over Georgia, but they aren’t home to Fury 325. I also wanted to get some rerides on Copperhead Strike now that it was running more reliably. There was just one problem- the weather.

 

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Sunny skies and 50 degrees. Aka winter down south.

 

Carowinds actually closed early the day prior. But the park did open for its last day of non-Winterfest operations and it was a ghost town.

 

The park was so deserted that they actually ran one train on Fury 325. This was the only ride with a line and even still, it was no more than 15-20 minutes. Compare that to my last visit when the entire queue was filled with three train operations.

 

I also think the one train operations were for another reason. If you’ve ridden Fury, you know how fast it feels. It seems almost inconceivable it could valley. But the morning’s empty test trains barely made it into the brake run. It all made sense. They couldn’t risk an empty train.

 

But with a full train, Fury hauled per usual. The first half showcases the speed. It felt like the cool air was trying to rip my face off. But my face was prepared for this. It was used to Nitro in the teens.

 

And with all that speed, Fury also delivered plenty of airtime. The first drop alone gives 4-5 seconds of sustained floater, but then you also have those incredible three return hills and some surprising sideways airtime that would make RMC proud. 10 out of 10

 

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Planes love to photobomb Carowinds.

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The test train hauled through the first half, but it crawled through the finale.

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It's like Orion with an extra 50 feet.

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I love how Fury interacts with the entry plaza.

 

I think Copperhead Strike was the only coaster running multiple trains and it was warranted. It had the second longest line in the park at a whopping 5-10 minutes. It was nice being able to ride this coaster again since it was hardly open during my March visit.

 

Copperhead Strike is a jack-of-all-trades. It has airtime (both floater and ejector pops), insane hangtime, a whippy corkscrew, quick transitions, and some nice theming. Really the only part where Copperhead Strike lets up is the little twister segment before the final bunny hill. 9 out of 10

 

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So much hangtime.

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Oh so much hangtime.

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And also airtime for good measure.

 

Afterburn was running particularly well. I’ve always enjoyed Afterburn, but I never remember it being this forceful. This thing was pulling some serious Gs like Montu, particularly on the batwing and final corkscrew. And it was still as smooth as a baby’s bottom despite being 20 years old. 9 out of 10

 

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I found it hysterical they were playing the Top Gun theme in the station.

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More inverts need batwings.

 

Another ride that pulled some Gs was the Carolina Cyclone. However, that ride is not as smooth as a baby’s bottom…unless that baby’s bottom is coated in rocks and dried turds.

 

There was no headbanging (for me at least), but every transition was a bit shaky. However, the ride is worth experiencing for the pop of air on the drop and forceful vertical loops. 5 out of 10

 

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Dolly has her Coat of Many Colors. Carowinds has its Coaster of Many Colors.

 

I had met up with a fellow enthusiast and we decided to take a token lap on Hurler. If you know me, you know I have a very strong resistance to rough rides. So my fellow enthusiast chose a wheel seat (row 2) and I didn’t even bat an eye.

 

While he found the ride rough, I found it pretty decent outside of the low-to-the-ground turns on the far-side of the ride. Those were quite bumpy. But the rest of the ride wasn’t rough at all and even had some weak pops of air. 5 out of 10

 

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Do I hate Hurler? No. Would I prefer another Twisted Timbers? Yes please!

 

One of the most underrated rides at Carowinds is the Mountain Gliders. These are one of my favorite sets of flying skooters. While they aren’t as fast as the ones at Knoebels, these ones have one key advantage.

 

The operators don’t care if you snap. In fact, I’ve seen them encourage it on a past visit! And for that reason, I was bouncing about to the delightful and unnatural sound of steel cables snapping. 9 out of 10

 

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When I saw the riders before me snapping like crazy, I knew I was in the clear.

 

I also made sure to ride Electro-Spin since it was closed back in March. Since this wasn’t the German fair circuit, I boarded with tempered expectations. I expected a short cycle with minimal flips.

 

Much to my shock, I got a long cycle in both directions with too many inversions to count. There weren’t too many fast flips, but there was plenty of drawn-out inversions loaded with hangtime. When a top scan is run correctly, it’s one of my favorite flats. 9 out of 10

 

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But the highlight of the visit was the 1.5 hour marathon on Fury to close out the night. Remember how Fury was only running one train earlier in the day? It was fully warmed up now and running two.

 

And not only were they running two, but the crew was firing on all cylinders. The crew set a record for the most dispatches in an hour with 36. And that was with just two trains! A+ for them! And the funny part is that I later found out this was apparently a Cedar Point crew.

 

Some enthusiasts like to be on the last train of the season to win a pissing match. I just like to be on the last train since parks with enthusiast ride operators tend to give double rides. And that proved to be the case with Fury. It was great wrapping the night with back-to-back night rides in the front row on Fury.

 

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So this is why it's called the treble clef.

 

I don’t think I’ll ever be at Carowinds on such a light day ever again. In fact, I think half the people in the park were enthusiasts. So it was a great day to make some new friends and get countless rerides on the park’s big three steel coasters.

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If you ever find yourself in or around Asbury Park, NJ, check out the Silverball Pinball Museum. It's a good time, and Asbury Park is a much nicer town than it generally gets a rap for (so long as you stay on the ocean-side of the rail line that runs through town LOL). They apparently have one in Delray Beach, FL as well.

 

I can vouche for this place (and the town, as well, Asbury Park has REALLY bounced back in the last ten years). Rikki actually held my surprise 30th birthday party at this place a few years back. It's a blast any time we go hang out there, plus there are some really great restaurants around it (not to mention the legendary Stone Pony across the street).

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I love Carowinds. Have not been since 2016. I have a lot of missed credits at this park since I just kept wanting to ride Fury and Afterburn. My folks live in Charlotte and I really need to get back and ride copperhead strike. . I am also in a small group of people who really enjoy Nighthawk and wanna ride it again before CedarFair kills it

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Stratosphere Tower

 

Space shots, wave swingers, and junior pendulum rides aren’t the most exciting rides on the planet. However, if you place them atop a 1000 foot tower, you have officially piqued my interest.

 

The Stratosphere Tower (or as they now like to call it, the Strat) is one of the most imposing structures in Las Vegas. It is situated at the end of the strip and towers over everything!

 

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The Strat is so tall that it stretches into the (wait for it) stratosphere.

 

The views from atop the tower are breathtaking. Las Vegas is a gorgeous city in a picturesque location. You have the bustling lights and energy of the strip contrasted with a mountain backdrop.

 

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We got high. Really high.

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It's incredible you have the mesmerizing lights in one direction.

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And snow-capped mountains in the other.

 

The views are even more impressive from the thrill rides. The most famous attraction is the Big Shot. And it’s probably the best.

 

The initial launch is quite thrilling. It’s not the most forceful, but it’s impossible not to think of the Roller Coaster Tycoon scenario where you shoot over the top and fall to your fiery death on the Vegas Strip.

 

But what steals the show is the airtime. I’m used to these S&S space shots giving a meek pop of air at the top. On Big Shot, the vehicle stalls before it reaches the top. This completely ejects riders. And then the vehicle is launched downwards, so the ejector airtime is sustained for a good 2-3 seconds.

 

Big Shot also has a second launch that is more typical of your other S&S towers, but it’s just gravy on-top of the insane airtime of the first launch. Big Shot is easily one of my favorite drop towers anywhere. That setting makes this ride. 10 out of 10

 

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Being launched off the top would be karma for everything I've ever done in Roller Coaster Tycoon.

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Big Shot only goes about 2/3 up the tower, but this stall results in some insane airtime.

 

The scariest ride is undoubtedly X-Scream. I never thought I had a fear of heights. But then I rode X-Scream and almost crapped my pants.

 

Whoever thought it was a good idea to have a tilt track over the side of a skyscraper is a mad genius. This turned a mundane kids ride into a bonafide thrill ride. If you don’t have a death grip on that restraint as you hurtle towards the Strip, you’ve deceiving yourself. 9 out of 10

 

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I can't think of anyway this could end badly.

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I was smiling on the outside, but I really looked like the guy next to me on the inside.

 

Insanity seemed to be the most popular ride. It was certainly freaky staring at the ground and feeling the arms dance in the breeze. And it was faster than expected. But it was sort of difficult to appreciate the view spinning at a rate that fast. 8 out of 10

 

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I wonder how many people have been hit with vomit down below.

 

I also returned at night to try SkyJump. Having recently gone skydiving as well, I was interested to compare the two experiences.

 

In terms of overall thrill, skydiving was definitely more intense. It's hard to top 45-50 seconds of pure freefall that included a flip or two. With SkyJump, you only have a half second of freefall before the mechanism starts controlling your speed.

 

But that first step is scarier than jumping out of a plane for skydiving. For tandem skydiving jumps, you're at the mercy of the instructor you're attached to. For SkyJump, you have to be the one to take that step off the edge of the platform. That "Oh crap" moment is the real thrill. And it's just icing on the cake to have the breathtaking views of Vegas as well.

 

Would I do SkyJump again? Not for full price. The experience was almost surreal, but it was pricey. However, returning jumpers can jump for half price. And that's good until the end of time provided I show my certificate.

 

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That's me (as my girlfriend watches in fear).

 

Of the attractions in Las Vegas, the Stratosphere was probably my favorite. Those thrill rides really give one-of-a-kind experiences and the views were simply incredible.

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I'm not terribly scared of heights. . but nope, nope, nope on all the attractions at the top of the Stratosphere tower.

 

the high cost, was a nice deterrent anyways, but ... nope.

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That looks like a lot of fun. My wife has been wanting to do a Vegas Trip. How much did the skyjump cost you?

 

I paid $90 with a Groupon, but the base price can be $120-$150. Return jumps are $45.

 

I'm not terribly scared of heights. . but nope, nope, nope on all the attractions at the top of the Stratosphere tower.

 

the high cost, was a nice deterrent anyways, but ... nope.

 

The Stratosphere is the perfect example how a ride's setting can make the experience.

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